IW schools could shed 60 jobs

Published 11:11 pm Wednesday, March 16, 2011

By Stephen H. Cowles

The Tidewater News

A continued weak economy combined with a reduction in funding could mean a $1-million decrease to the 2011-2012 Isle of Wight County Schools budget and the possible elimination of 60 jobs.

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Among the positions that could be lost are library clerks, lead teachers and instruction assistants. These are not state-funded positions.

This was the bottom line in a presentation by School Superintendent Dr. Michael W. McPherson to the School Board last week. The proposed budget is $57.6 million, a $1.03 million drop from last year.

McPherson asked the School Board to seek from the Board of Supervisors a one-time carry-over of funds from 2010, along with whatever is saved in 2011, to offset some job losses.

School systems normally have to give unspent money back to the locality at the end of the fiscal year.

Katherine Goff, communications specialist for the school district, said there are 29 positions funded through the stimulus funding.

“We expect to receive the Education Fund through federal money that could allow 12 jobs to be kept,” Goff said.

McPherson stressed to the board that “the budget is still fluid.”

He cited four factors that are negatively affecting the proposal, particularly where pay increases, job protection, school maintenance and transportation are concerned. These were goals the board asked to be included in developing the budget.

McPherson pointed to poor economic health, reduced federal stimulus grants, a developed budget based on level local funding, and the impact of things that are beyond the system’s control, such as rising fuel costs.

More specifically, federal funding reductions and “unavoidable operating cost increases related to employee benefits” are preventing the protection of jobs, he said..

The board voted to hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, with a work session set for the same time on Wednesday, followed by a special session at 7 p.m. March 28.